A bird-man or long-nosed hermit or goblin

A proud, bird-based, warrior race with much contradiction in its lore. Some accounts make them out to be demonic bandits and others show them as wise sages who live in remote areas.  
Great Tengu by ultimatearm
Tengu are stubborn, loud, and hot tempered. Many are skilled martial artists. Myths say this species has caused several wars and natural disasters. Despite their negatives, they can be a sympathetic lot—taking the side of the downtrodden and helping them get a leg up in life or avenging their families by training them as warriors or teaching them tengu magic. Most live alone in forested areas, away from humankind. They can band together for a cause they consider worthy.   There are two main types in the folklore.


Karasu Tengu Statue by WolfgangMichel (Photographer)
  The ‘lesser tengu’ is the more commonly found type. They look like a cross between a bird (often a crow or kite) and a man. Bird features dominate—showing up in the head, wings and feet.   Kotengu are a quarrelsome, egotistical lot that carry out acts of mischief and destruction—from benign and random kidnappings to pillaging holy areas.  


by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳)
  The ‘great tengu’ are the older and wiser of the tengu varieties and the top of the species hierarchy. They have more human features, though the wings may remain. Daitengu may also have red skin and a long nose. Their elongated noses may be the transformation of the beak when they changed from a kotengu.   Daitengu carry magical feather fans that can stir up the wind or change the size of another being’s nose. (Considering they are proud of their long proboscises, this is important.) They are known to cause earthquakes and fires if angered.

Related Articles

Tengu Bronze by Kawanabe Kyōsai
Related Ethnicities
Daitengu - immortal
Kotengu - unknown
Kotengu tend to be simple thinkers, whereas daitengu tend to be wise, bordering on genius level.
Conservation Status
Unknown. They tend to be hermits and are a male only race.
Myths say that some tengu transformed from humans who were tending toward evil. Otherwise, unknown. Though Soujoubou is reported to have a wife.
Omnivores (including human flesh occasionally)
Famous tengu
  • Soujoubou (king of the tengu)
  • Taroubou (on Mt. Atago, Kyoto, whom hikers come to ask for protection every year from fire related disasters.)

  • Comments

    Author's Notes


  • Kotengu (Yokai.com)
  • Daitengu (Yokai.com)
  • The tengu and their role in Japanese society (Academia.edu)
  • Atago Shinkō (Encyclopdia of Shinto)

  • Please Login in order to comment!
    10 Dec, 2020 01:24

    I love your explanation of the two different types of tengu, and the pictures you've chosen to represent them. :) I also like that you've pointed out the contradictions in a lot of the lore.

    Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
    1 Jan, 2021 00:54

    Thank you! <3

    Author of the Liminal Chronicles urban fantasy series | vssCollab very short story prompts | Author Website
    10 Dec, 2020 03:32

    Oh my.   I LOVE the artwork on this page.   I find the KOTENGU and DAITENGU fascinating...and how they differ so much in personality.   Now, I realize the DAITENGU are older and wiser--but are they less chaotic than the KOTENGU? ...or do they still create a great deal of mischief??   Because it sounds like the older are more refined, and being that they look more human, might use it to their advantage?

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    1 Jan, 2021 00:55

    Thank you! The Daitengu are known to cause earthquakes and fires if angered. And yes, they fit in among humans better too!

    Author of the Liminal Chronicles urban fantasy series | vssCollab very short story prompts | Author Website
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